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Mongolian Beef with Zucchini

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Mongolian Beef is deemed to be the most popular Chinese restaurant take out dish in Australia and the United States. The dish is traditionally prepared using beef slices stir-fried with spring onion (scallions), ginger and garlic, in a savoury and pungent brown sauce made with soy sauce, rice wine, and thickened with corn starch mixture. Sometimes, capsicums (bell peppers), brown sugar, hoisin sauce or oyster sauce may also be added as ingredients. For my gluten free, soy free and corn free recipe, my ingredients are thinly sliced beef rump steak, spring onion (scallions), zucchini, ginger and garlic, stir-fried in a brown sauce consisting of blackstrap molasses, coconut amino sauce (coconut aminos), medium dry sherry and thickened with potato starch mixture. This recipe is also dairy free, egg free, nut free, refined sugar free and allergy friendly. It is also paleo without the steamed rice.

Origin of Mongolian Beef?

Regardless of the name of this dish, Mongolian beef did not originate from Mongolia. It was in fact created in Taiwan adapted from Mongolian barbecue restaurants serving a meat and vegetable dish stir-fried on a hot iron griddle at really high temperature. Equally, the Mongolian beef and Mongolian barbecue dishes were invented in Taiwan and has no associations with Mongolian cuisine at all.

What is Coconut Aminos?

Coconut Aminos or coconut amino sauce is a sauce frequently used as a healthier alternative to soy sauce mainly in Asian dishes. It is made from coconut nectar or sap and then aged by naturally fermenting it with added sea salt. Coconut aminos is not only a healthier replacement condiment with 70% less sodium and sweeter than standard soy sauce, it is also low-calorie, low-glycemic and allergy friendly. It is gluten free, soy free, non-GMO, paleo, kosher, vegan, certified organic and MSG free. It has a nice balance of sweet, savoury, rich, buttery flavour. Coconut aminos can be used in stir-fries, stews, braises, casseroles, dressings, dipping sauce and marinades. Coconut nectar or sap is regularly made into an assortment of foodstuffs like syrup, sugar, vinegar and other sauces in Southeast Asia. You can purchase coconut aminos in health food stores or online stores. Once the bottle is opened, coconut aminos must be kept in the refrigerator.

History of Zucchini

Zucchini or courgette (Cucurbita pepo) is a summer squash that belongs to the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, like all squashes and pumpkins. They are usually harvested immature with soft and tender edible skin before their rinds harden like pumpkin and butternut squash, winter squashes that have hard and inedible skin. Zucchini skin is most commonly dark green but can also come in light green, and a related hybrid, the golden zucchini can be orange or deep yellow in colour. Eventhough, botanically they are considered fruits as they come from a flowering plant, they are considered a vegetable in the culinary world. They are a kind of botanical berry named “pepo”, meaning the enlarged ovary of the zucchini flower. The historical squashes originated from Central and South Americas more than 7,000 years ago. While the modern-day variety of the zucchini was initially cultivated in Italy during the 19th century and introduced into the United States in the 1920s by European immigrants.  

Zucchini as food

Today, zucchini is a regular well-liked summer vegetable worldwide, mainly due to the fact that it is affordable and widely available all year round and most importantly its gastronomic versatility. Zucchini is not only a regular vegetable side dish, it can also be shredded and included into bread, pastry and desserts like cakes, muffins and soufflé. The simplest way to savour zucchini as a snack is to cut it into sticks or slices put together with a dipping sauce or hummus. In addition, zucchini can be added raw to salads or on its own it can be steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed, barbequed, pan fried or deep fried, or added to Asian stir-fried dishes, the options are infinite. Zucchini can be included into pasta or noodle dishes or made into noodles like spirals with a vegetable slicer or spiralizer, frequently referred to as “zoodles”, a healthy low carb vegetable substitute for pasta or noodle. Furthermore, zucchini blossoms or flowers are also edible and can be stuffed, used as pizza toppings, fried Japanese tempura style, added to soups and as a fillings for tortilla or quesadillas. When purchasing fresh zucchini from the market, look for the ones that are shiny, smooth and with firm skin that has no cuts and bruises plus bright colour skin. Store zucchini in plastic bags in the refrigerator for later use.

Nutritional Values and Health Benefits of Zucchini

This fresh summer vegetable is not only tasty and an extremely versatile cooking ingredient, zucchini also has a lot of nutritional values and health benefits. Zucchini is high in water content, has zero fat, low in calories and also a good source of plant protein, dietary fiber, vitamins and essential minerals. Zucchini is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, folate/folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin K, manganese and potassium. It is also a decent source of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), copper, magnesium and phosphorus. Moreover, zucchini also has certain amount of vitamin E, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), choline, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. Similarly, zucchini contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients especially plentiful in carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, mainly found in the zucchini skin. Health benefits of zucchini include: promote a healthy digestive system; support healthy eyesight and skin; maintain healthy blood sugar level; aid in weight loss management; reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases; boosts the immune system; maintain healthy bones; help stabilise thyroid and adrenal glands functions and may prevent certain cancer like prostate cancer.

For nutritional values and health benefits of beef rump steak, check out my Braised Beef with Shiitake Mushrooms and Black Fungus recipe.

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